Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Incumbents in Wisconsin Dominate Fundraising Race Over Challengers

As Steven Walters reports in The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Wisconsin incumbents have outraised challengers 8:1. This huge fundraising advantage is likely the principal reason that fully one-third of incumbent legislators face either no competition or only third party competition.

One legislator points to the national fundraising picture to explain why fundraising is the dominant factor in Wisconsin's elections:

But Sen. Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield) said exploding costs of Wisconsin campaigns reflect a national trend, despite changes at the federal level. "McCain-Feingold clearly hasn't done anything to put a damper on money in politics," Kanavas said.

Campaign finance reform was on the agenda in the Legislature this past spring, but ended up going nowhere. Kanavas expressed a worry that some of the proposed changes might affect free speech, stating that the only true reform is "raising (contribution) limits and 24-hour reporting".

So it sounds like the senator thinks it a good thing that one-third of Wisconsin's residents won't have a choice in the upcoming elections. Or maybe he thinks that allowing wealthy donors to "speak their minds" with big contributions that the rest of us can't afford is more important than representative democracy.

Regardless, let's hope that whomever gets elected to the Wisconsin Legislature this fall has ideas a little less aristocratic and a little more democratic than State Senator Kanavas.

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